Originally published: April 2023


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April is Oral Health month in Canada. It’s a great time to brush up on what it means to have a healthy mouth. This year’s theme is about sugar intake and oral health. It encourages families to learn about sugar and make informed choices for good oral health and overall health.

This April, help your child keep their sweet smile! Try these tips to limit sugar and protect their teeth from tooth decay (cavities):

Talk with your child about sugar and oral health

Sugary food and drinks increase your risk of tooth decay. Explain to your child that bacteria in our mouths break down the sugar we eat and make acids that dissolve the surface of our teeth (enamel). This can lead to tooth decay. The good news is that when we eat and drink less sugar, we lower the risk of tooth decay.

Teach kids to be sugar detectives!

Show your child how to identify sugar on a product ingredient list. Words ending in “ose” (like sucrose and fructose), or words such as syrup, honey, molasses, fruit juice, and puree concentrate are sugar products. When these words appear near the beginning of the list, the food or drink is higher in sugar. Help them choose snacks and drinks without these ingredients.

As a family, consider limits on sugary food and drinks

Talk with your kids about cutting back on snacks with added sugar, like candy, chocolate, and desserts. As a family, consider setting limits on sugary drinks like pop, iced tea, chocolate milk, and slushy frozen drinks. Try setting a goal you can work towards together.

Keep low-sugar snacks on hand

Have tooth-healthy snacks in the fridge or pantry so kids can grab them on the go. Try whole fruits, raw vegetables, cheese cubes, hard-boiled eggs, plain yogurt, nuts, or seeds.

Put away the sugar bowl

Encourage your kids to avoid adding sugar to their food before they eat it. Here are some tasty, nutritious ways to swap out sugar:

  • Top plain oatmeal with berries.
  • Eat vegetables and fruits in their natural form, without sweetened dips or sauces.
  • Replace syrup with unsweetened apple sauce or plain yogurt.

Make water your family’s go-to drink

Try these tips to encourage your child to drink water throughout the day:

  • Serve water with all meals and snacks.
  • Encourage your child to keep a reusable water bottle with them at school.
  • Remind them that water is the best way to quench thirst during physical activity or when it’s hot outside—encourage them to skip sugary sport drinks and energy drinks.
  • Replace sugary drinks with water.

Ask your dental professional about sugar and oral health

Limiting sugar is an important way to protect your child from getting tooth decay.

Book regular appointments for your child to see a dentist, dental hygienist, or other dental professional. Ask them for advice on keeping teeth healthy.

If your family needs help covering the costs of dental visits, go to ahs.ca/oralhealth.

For more information, go to:

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